Rebirth of Reason

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 9:31amSanction this postReply

That's a great article, Joe!  This is the kind of thing that should first be taught in elementary school (not as formal logic or epistomological theory, but at the level of "That's not thinking clearly, Johnny, you know that....  We always have to see what else would change."


I see a spectrum of dishonesty.  At one end is the most dishonest - someone who clearly knows about the negative net-net effect of a change but proposes it anyway, and, if need be, lies and argues against the unseen effects to come; this person usually has an ulterior motive they keep hidden.  At the other end of the dishonest spectrum are those who might feel a twinge of what is commonly called "conscience" and is actually just the portion of the subconcious that deals with integration and identifying relationships and is trying to tell the consciousness, "Hey, there is a problem you need to look at - there is more to this - this isn't right," but they choose to blank that out and not focus on anything that takes away from the desired "one thing change".


You wrote, "Because the causal link is indirect, people view it as not strictly necessary. Which means they can make their single change and not be morally culpable for the indirect consequences."  That is a brilliant observation- the link between choosing an epistemological approach and a sense of needing to stay 'moral' - as if morality could be maintained by pretending to an error in logic.


I see the psychological process as something like this: They sense the conflict between getting a "single change benefit" and the possibility of unseen effects down the road.... and if the causal link starts to feel too substantial in their mind, they adopt a fuzzy, conscious rationalization that counters the causal link (such as it is not the same people doing the single change that would do the down-the-road-effects so they aren't 'really' related, or "anything is possible") and now they can use the non-contradition rule - choosing to accept the "indirect consequence" or "anything is possible" over the "strictly necessary", and it is in effect blanked out.  (But you can't really fool yourself, so at some level, certainly the level of the formation of positive or negative changes to the self-esteem, they know).  


The only thing they fully accept is that there cannot be a contradiction and the question is what do they throw out - the causal necessity (which lets them have the single change and pretend its okay), or do they throw out the single change (which they feel an emotional pull for).  They know which side their emotions are on, and so they manufacture a moral fantasy about the nature of indirect consequences and pretend that they now aren't really blanking out anything. And there you go, in a tiny fraction of a second they set the course for their actions and arguments.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 12:05pmSanction this postReply

Love the 'Butterfly Effect' :D


one small story that I still laugh at today:

I wanted to get a new cell-phone contract and pay for it with my credit-card. My credit-card has my middle initial on it and validates against the full name. The phone company, for whom I'd been building interfaces a couple of years prior to that, did have middle name in the application form, but the interfaces we built did not transfer that field from the frontend form to the backend system. Result: my phone contract was denied, as my credit-card refused validation.

Even though I tried to explain this to the embarrassed sales-person there was nothing he could do about it. I effectively sabotaged myself by implementing that interface even though I knew about the resulting issues. I've had similar smaller issues-and-effects over the years with many of my retail or logistics customers, but nothing as directly blatant as this.


As Steve pointed out it goes much deeper than that: there's an untangible side to this. The more defective interfaces I implement, and the more I get paid for implementing defective systems, the less that money it worth. I've noticed an actual decrease of worth over the years I'm getting in return for the money I earned. Which is logical of course: I'm creating less value for the money I earn, so I get less value in return when I spend it. As my customers are not willing to implement better interfaces I have to increase my rates to be able to buy the intended value with the money earned.

So building lousy interfaces is not just directly, but also indirectly, more expensive than building good systems.


Alas I'm also just a HomoSaSa and my excuse is: I don't really care much about those systems if the customer is not interested enough to change his architecture. I just live with the fallout. That's why I chose IT: my heart is not in it. If I'd chosen literature, art, trekking, sailing, helicopter piloting, or any of the other things I enjoy (or intend to enjoy in the not so distant future), I'd face a very real problem of compromising my creativity, my enjoyment, my vision of my future what little is left of that vision.

With IT I just have a good laugh at the lunacy in that business :D

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 2:15pmSanction this postReply

Excellent post, I think you bring up a lot of thought-provoking ideas.  I've always been fascinated with the idea of the Broken Window fallacy, and the lack of creativity people show with regards to the unseen.  I think you could write a whole book about how other big concepts are related to this, but here are my mind's quick ramblings:  


I think you could work this idea into the nature of momentum in society as well.  Often times, people think they can be inconsistent with policies just in one instance, without considering the momentum that this inconsistency creates and the precedent that is set.


Examples of this:


1) Inconsistency in advocacy of freedom of speech and privacy creates the precedent for it to further erode in the future.   Why is it that in the case of Phil Robertson, his livelihood should not be threatened based on opinions he gave in public, but in the case of Donald Sterling (a-hole that he may be), we can demand retribution for something he said in the privacy of his own home?


2) Military:  Anytime our military uses force, the momentum of the military industrial complex is enhanced.  Often times people think it is only temporary, but this doesn’t end up being the case. 


3) Laws:  How often do people who are otherwise small government advocates, and who would easily laugh at how many stupid laws and regulations we have, utter the phrase “there oughtta be a law”. Just in this one case though!...


4) Gay marriage:  I’ve always found it interesting that many religious people want to deny the government’s ability to recognize the contract of two people, yet they want to be left completely free from the government’s influence of their own beliefs and rituals.  They set the precedent to use force when they are in the majority, so perhaps they should expect the same treatment the next time they are not in the majority!


5) Overtun Window:  Implementing policy without regards to the momentum it will produce creates a new normal, where policies that would currently be abhorrent become more acceptable in the future.

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